Why did we create fondazione illimity?
Some initiatives that could have a positive social impact are easier to implement through a foundation rather than directly through a bank. This is particularly true for projects that require different parts of the social economy - lay and religious -, public administrators, universities and of course for-profit entities such as ours to work together.
illimity specialises in providing SMEs with financing: credit for companies with unexpressed potential; workout loans for firms that have been through trying times, but have shown the potential to get back on track; loans that are clearly non-performing, but still have potential value and where it might be possible to unblock situations weighed down by an accumulation of problems. In our business, we sometimes come across or even acquire buildings that, when analysed from the right perspective, could be fundamental for high impact, sustainable social projects. Our foundation will work to make such projects possible, finding optimal uses for these buildings and providing illimity Group expertise and resources. We have acquired specific professional skills for social planning because it is a distinct, complex world, and some of our illimiters have chosen to dedicate a portion of their time to such activities, willing to learn from people who have more experience in this sphere than them.
At illimity, we have a motto that, in Italian, is not overly originally, but means a lot in a nice play on words: fare utili ed essere utili. It basically means make profit and be useful. We are a business and so our mission is to make money to remunerate the capital entrusted to us, but we have committed ourselves to doing this responsibly and to generating benefits for everyone in our "ecosystem", which includes our 1.5 million clients, our 650 illimiters, our business and technology partners, and the community we truly feel part of.
The foundation won't improve our bottom line. But we will work tirelessly to ensure it makes us more useful, by bringing to life high impact projects that would otherwise never see the light of day or, at least, struggle to get off the ground. We have one such project that is nearly ready and we'll be announcing soon. We like playing with words, and in another of our business divisions we like to say NPL mustn't only mean non-performing loan but also nuove potenzialità di lavoro or new potential for labour. Some of fondazione illimity projects will focus specifically on the most vulnerable parts of the working world.
The foundation was not created for charity or simple philanthropic initiatives, as merit-worthy and necessary as such aspects are. Our foundation will provide buildings and expertise to launch or improve sustainable social utility projects - projects that could spur other projects and attracts resources from other sources in a process of progressively expanding the network of valuable partners with shared values.
The Covid crisis remains very much with us and it has already worsened social hardship and increased need. It has also accelerated certain trends, such as digitalisation, which is upturning the labour market for good and bad. It really has shone a bright light on the previous "normal". The "new normal" needs innovative, high-performing companies, but such companies need to be responsible - fortunately, there are many of them. “Hybrid" operators are also necessary in this new normal, able to use public and private resources, potentially focusing on profit, low profit or no-profit, but always looking to work together to make a difference and build a sense of community. This is the spirit with which, in a genuine sense of humility, fondazione illimity is starting its life.
Visit the web site www.fondazioneillimity.it
Op-Ed published on Avvenire on June 16th, 2021